Sunday, May 24, 2009


Yesterday was my second ride with the San Fernando Bicycle Club: the 61-mile version of their "Sierra Highway History" ride (there are also 42- and 74-mile versions). When it was time to go it turned out that there was only one other person heading in my direction (there were two other groups of routes to choose from). I hung with the guy up over Balboa and out of the San Fernando Valley but it was clear that I would not be able to hang on once we got to the first big hill that would drop us into Santa Clarita. I bid the fellow farewell and did my second group ride solo. I can do hills, I just do them slower than most people.

I was humming along nicely when, several miles before the first scheduled rest stop, I was joined by someone (not from the club) who was just out for a ride. We chatted for a bit and he got me moving slightly faster than I normally would have been but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Once we hit some downhills on the way to the stop, he took off (I'm more of a "coast down the hills" kinda guy). I just picked up a Gatorade at the stop, figuring this would be a bad time to experiment with solid foods on a ride, though I did down the banana I took with me. As I was drinking I met someone who was from the club. He explained that he left with a group going on a different route and he didn't realize it for several miles. Since he was clearly faster than me I let him go ahead of me so we could avoid the inevitable dropping of me.

After the break, it was time to pedal some more. I should mention that this was a fairly nice route. Nice views, roads that aren't heavily travelled but are well-paved. I was enjoying myself. At the 40-mile mark I took a left and I made the momentous decision to break with the route slip and eat early rather than ride nine more miles to Carl's Jr. What caused me to make this rash decision? I rode right by an In-N-Out. Who's gonna pass by an In-N-Out at high noon in favor of a Carl's Jr. nine miles away? Not this cyclist.

One Double Double, fries, and a chocolate shake later (note to self: probably should have gotten a lemonade), I felt fueled up. I chatted a bit with some cyclists who arrived while I was eating outside (I spent a lot of time on this trip talking about my Craigslist Special, as I call my bike). I didn't know how long I should wait after a meal to start riding again but I gave myself some time and then got going once more. Twenty miles to go.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. More great views. Part of the ride was going the other way on a part of the Santa Clarita Century route, which I thought was fun. I had to stop and rest up one hill but, on the other hand, I hit over 42 mph at one point and that was with me hitting the brakes because of the gusty winds. Shortly after I hit that I was passed by another cyclist. Too funny.

I was really starting to get tired now. At 50 miles in, which was halfway up the last big hill, I had to take a break. Once I got up that last hill, it was pretty easy getting back (Balboa is much easier southbound than northbound). I did it, though. 60.81 miles and 4:49 of riding (not counting breaks). Today my belts are a half-notch looser.

I would also like to mention that my fueling and hydration plans seemed to hit the mark. I am neither ravenously hungry nor very thirsty, like I have been after other long rides. Gels every 45 minutes (they're 150 cal. gels rather than the usual 100) and water every 30 minutes as well as with each gel. That and the fuel at the rest stops saw me through in good shape. I like to think that I didn't run out of fuel, I ran out of legs. Still, I did make it.

The plan now is to take it easy until the L.A. River Ride in two weeks. Probably no hill workouts until then and just an easy 29-mile ride (emphasis on easy), a run tomorrow and next Sunday and that's it. I wasn't completely recovered from last week's workouts so I want to make sure I am completely rested so I can make that River Ride my first century.

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